OXFORD United ground out a hard-fought point at Gillingham as Olly Lee’s penalty cancelled out Tariqe Fosu’s quality opener.

The U’s winger’s tenth goal of the season gave the visitors a lead at the break after an attritional first half.

Karl Robinson’s side were not overly troubled at the back, but the slender lead vanished when Lee converted from the spot after Alex Gorrin fouled Brandon Hanlan.

The equaliser allowed the game to finally open up and United had the clearest chances to win the game.

Nathan Holland had a shot deflected over, while Josh Ruffels saw a header hit the crossbar via a defender.

Neither side settled for a point, but that is what they came away with.

A knee injury ruled out Matty Taylor, while Marcus Browne dropped to the bench as Jamie Mackie and Mark Sykes came into the starting line-up in the two changes from midweek.

While the U’s were scrapping their way to a point against Ipswich Town on Tuesday, Gillingham had their feet up and the side with League One’s longest unbeaten run carved out the game’s first chance.

Connor Ogilvie’s tenth-minute cross was chested down by Max Ehmer at the back post for Jordan Roberts, but on the stretch he fired wide.

United responded by taking the lead with their first meaningful attack, six minutes later.

Shandon Baptiste’s forward run unbalanced the hosts’ back four and a weak clearance fell to Josh Ruffels on the edge of the box. He found Fosu, whose step-overs bought some space which allowed him to pick out the far corner of the net from 15 yards.

It was the one moment of real quality in a half which became bogged down in a midfield scrap.

Gillingham’s direct approach was largely dealt with by the visitors, who took no risks in their own half.

They needed cool heads as the half wore on, as the Priestfield crowd fumed at Fosu.

He went down after a challenge from Barry Fuller, only to get back to his feet later in the move and cross.

Gills boss Steve Evans then became embroiled in a row with Mackie, who was booked for his part.

The veteran forward was a useful focal point for United and he was in full wind-up mode in response to chants from the Rainham End.

All the while there was a game going on, but the heightened tensions led to an over-eager Gillingham committing free-kicks all over the pitch.

From one of those, four minutes before the break, Sam Long’s header went just wide of the far post from Baptiste’s set piece.

Fosu almost had a chance to grab his second on the stroke of half-time, but after breaking into space Holland’s pass for the winger was over-hit.

United remained fairly comfortable until just after the hour mark.

Brandon Hanlan drove into the box and was caught by Gorrin, who had no complaints.

Lee stepped up and confidently sent Simon Eastwood the wrong way from 12 yards to make it 1-1.

The goalkeeper did make a good save two minutes later, though, denying Hanlan’s header at the back post.

The equaliser meant the game really exploded into life and United went on to have a good spell.

Holland had a goal-bound shot deflected over by Alfie Jones and from the resulting corner Ruffels’s header hit a defender and hit the crossbar.

Dan Agyei, who replaced Mackie after the penalty, showed some bright touches for United to launch counter-attacks.

One got fellow substitute Browne flying down the left flank, but the Middlesbrough loanee’s cross could not pick out Mark Sykes in the middle.

United also had to be strong defensively as Gillingham pushed hard for an equaliser.

They forced several dangerous set pieces but the visitors, led by John Mousinho, stood firm.

Gillingham (4-1-2-1-2): Bonham, Fuller, Ehmer, Tucker, Ogilvie, Jones, O’Keefe, O’Connor, Lee, Hanlan, Roberts (Jakubiak 79).

Unused subs: Walsh, Willock, Mandron, Charles-Cook, Pringle, Marshall.

Booked: Lee.

Oxford Utd (4-3-3): Eastwood, Long, Dickie, Mousinho, Ruffels, Gorrin, Sykes, Baptiste, Holland (Browne 76), Mackie (Agyei 61), Fosu.

Unused subs: Stevens, Moore, Kelly, Hanson, Hall.

Booked: Mackie, Baptiste, Browne.

Referee: Neil Hair (Huntingdonshire).

Attendance: 5,051 (535 visitors).